Friday, October 7, 2011

Princess Grace and the Smoking Ham

No, this is not the title of a children’s book—but maybe one day it should be!

For now, this is simply the title of today’s blog because it just so happens to encompass my day from start to finish.

Since a natural (obvious) connection doesn’t exactly exist between Grace Kelly and du jambon, I’ll try to make things a little more clear. Let’s walk through the day together!

After helping the kids off to school, my day began at 9:00 a.m. with a ride into Monaco on the back of one of these:

Needless to say, every dream that Passport to Paris sparked in my heart came true this morning.

Apparently, Friday is market day! Vendors were scattered all around Beausoleil and Monaco this morning selling bright produce and fresh flowers. Under each tent, boxes of prickly pears, apples, figs, nuts and sweetbreads were crammed snuggly against one another. Between the candy-colored shops, the painted walls, the cobbled roads and the market stands, the entire day was full of color. Love that!


Et voila, the view from the palace! After walking through the markets for a bit in Beausoleil, I decided that today was the day I was going to do something super-touristy—it’s important to get those things out of the way early, before I start convincing myself that I’m a local and therefore too cool to do things like pay 8 euros to visit the only five rooms of the palace that are open to the public. Whatever—the truth is, I love museums, I love tours, and I love pretending that I’m a princess. So what better place to combine all of those things than in the palais in Monaco?


It took a long walk (and a steep climb) to reach the palace, but it was so worth it. I mean, at one point on the tour, I was standing in the room where Princess Grace got married. I’m sure that my little hand-held, tape-recorded tour guide had many more historical facts to share, but you know…it’s the important things that stick.

She was so beautiful.

Après the tour I toured the grounds surrounding the castle for a bit. It’s surrounded by tiny alleyways stuffed with tourist shops, a beautiful cathedral, cobblestone roads, an oceanic museum that I didn’t feel like paying 10 euros to see, and the jardin exotique—a manicured Japanese-style garden.

On a scale of 1-10, I am a solid 12 on the tourist measurement system in that photo.

Once I left the castle, I made a beeline for Rue Caroline—a street I passed through on my way to the palace that’s lined with shops, benches, and croissant-and-coffee breakfast cafes in Monte-Carlo. Favorite shop of the day: Morgan de Toi. So darling. Filmy blouses, printed tees, striped sweaters, faux-fur capes, Chanel-inspired jackets and tinkling charm bracelets. So French, so chic…and surprisingly, so cheap! (Code for: I bought a sweater).

With my purchase tucked under my arm, I headed for another market intent on purchasing an apple. The man I approached laughed when I asked for the price of just one apple, then smiled and placed one in my hand. “Un cadeau,” he said with a smile.

Merci beaucoup, Monsieur! It was crisp and it was perfect. Oh la.

Tonight, I went to La Carrefour with Valerie. It’s a French grocery store where everybody steers their shopping carts the same way they drive on the roads—careening in and out, cutting each other off, swooping in for a parking place (or the last bag of tomatoes). It’s like bumper cars!

The butcher was quite amused when I clapped my hand over my mouth as he sliced off the heads of a few birds that still, uh, had their feathers on. And their beaks. “She’s American,” Valerie explained with a laugh. “Tell her they’re already dead,” he said in French.

And finalement, the smoking ham. While Valerie was picking up some lunch meat for a picnic we’re going to have on Sunday, I noticed a package that read “du jambon fumé.” In French, jambon is ham, and fumer means “to smoke.” As in, a cigarette. So of course the first thing that comes to my mind is a pig with a cigarette dangling out his mouth.

Thank goodness my first trip to the supermarket was with a French person. Valerie kindly explained that the pigs in France do not smoke, nor do humans smoke the ham in the package. It’s simply…smoked ham.

Like, the same kind we have in America.

Got it!

Loving this crazy language thing and all the laughter it brings. :)


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